When the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) opened for its 7th edition last night, there were indications of government and private sector support for the business of filmmaking in Nigeria.
Several delegates from Africa and beyond had arrived Lagos for the week-long event, that kicked off at the Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, The Palms, Lekki, Lagos.
The glamorous ceremony opened with two films; ‘Waiting for Hassana’, a Short on the abducted Chibok girls, directed by Ifunanya Maduka, and ‘I am not a Witch’, a Zambian film by Rungano Nyoni, both highlighting social issues relating to African children.
This was the peg of the speech by former governor of Akwa Ibom state and current Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who recounted how his administration as governor curtailed the often exaggerated problem of witchcraft, associated to children.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, reiterated Federal Government’s support for support the creative industry through grants, tax breaks and funding opportunities, saying, “We are pushing for a single-digit interest on loans for infrastructural developments for the Industry. We are supporting the building of 100 community cinemas to be evenly spread across the country. We are close to having world-class pre- and post-production facility using the current NTA infrastructure with a few additions. We want to ensure that in the focus on studio facilities, we ensure that one is located in every geo-political zone of the country. And on the back of the DIGITAL SWITCH-OVER of our television, we are ensuring that the set top boxes are enabled to allow our 24 million TV households to buy our movies with and without the need of data. This way, the home goes digital!”
Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, whose bank is the lead sponsor of the festival, pledged more support for filmmakers, especially through the AFRIFF/Accelerate Filmmakers Project, an initiative set up to help burgeoning filmmakers to nurture their ideas.
According to Wigwe who is also a patron of AFRIFF, film as a powerful tool for Africans to change the narratives from the usual story of poverty usually projected by the Western media.
Representing the Governor of Lagos state, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, welcomed delegates to the centre of excellence and positioned AFRIFF as ‘’one of the leading creative platforms in Africa that has been consistent, truly awe inspiring and which has found the Lagos arty landscape compatible with its own vision.”
Also speaking at the event, French Consul General, Lagos, Mr. Laurent Polonceaux said; “This is a great opportunity for us because this is the first time that the French government is involved with Africa. We will be having two days at the festival for French films, with possibility of co-production with Nigeria and Africa.” He noted that it was good that the festival will be closing with the French film, ‘Felicite’, and disclosed that arrangement has been made to have about 70 film students for further training in France as an exchange programme with AFRIFF.
The opening ceremony started with a red carpet show that had celebrities like Wale Ojo, Hilda Dokubo, Uche Jombo, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Judith Audu, Linda Ejiofor, Hilda Dokubo and Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi.
Others dignitaries include star filmmakers and film entrepreneurs such as Biola Alabi, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Fred Amata, Zick Zulu Okafor, Kunle Afolayan, CJ Obasi, Belinda Yanga, Kenneth Uphopho, as well as media personalities like Shaibu Husseini and Ameyaw Debrah from Ghana.
AFRIFF is an annual week-long, all-encompassing world class showcase running from October 29 to November 4, 2017.
About 200 carefully curated feature length, short, documentary and student films will be screened this year.
The festival also encompasses talent development classes, industry workshops and inspiring creative discussions.
Photos: Adeolu Adeniyi
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